Boba Fett’s Guide to Writing Cool Characters

Boba Fett is one of the most beloved scourges of the Star Wars universe. Yet, he says only 27 words (28 if you add the Wilhelm Scream), and is on screen for a mere 6 minutes and 32 seconds. He even gets defeated in a pathetic way by being knocked into the Sarlacc pit by […]

Deepen Your Story with Character Misdirection

Deepen Your Story With Character Misdirection

In childhood, stories are always about exactly what they appear: “See Spot. See Spot run.” But as we grow older and our life experiences deepen, so do our story experiences. What emerges is often a complex weave of subtext and misdirection. Life isn’t always as we perceive it on its surface—and even when it is, half the […]

3 Things to Do if Your Antagonist Is Taking Over Your Story

Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the single most important character in your story. But beware, lest you discover your antagonist is taking over your story. What does this look like? Why might it happen? And how can you guard against it? Glad you asked. Antagonists are fascinating people. The reasons why people choose […]

It’s Here! My Brand-New Writing Book: Creating Character Arcs!

If you’re writing tight plots, beautiful prose, and engaging characters—and yet your stories still don’t feel as if they’re gelling, you may yet be missing what is arguably the single most important piece of your storytelling puzzle. Maybe your characters aren’t engaging, despite your best efforts. Or maybe they’re following transformative personal journeys, but those journeys always end up […]

A Surefire Sign You’re Going Too Easy On Your Characters

A Surefire Way to Raise the Stakes in Your Story

Characters are people to whom bad things happen. This is a good definition as far as it goes, but if this is as far as you take it, you will fail to properly raise the stakes in your story, and the entire reading experience will suffer as a result. Sure, bad things happen to characters. They […]

How to Properly Motivate Your Bad Guy

No character is more misunderstood than the bad guy. Even today, it’s far too easy for authors to slip into the remnants of the old melodrama stereotype—black cape, twirled mustache, trick laugh. He’s the bad guy just because… well, he’s bad. Isn’t that enough? Definitely not enough. Next to your protagonist, your antagonist is the […]

How to Get Up Cclose with Your Characters

How to Get Up Close With Your Characters

To create believable characters, novelists develop profiles. These descriptions of their characters—from birth conditions to major life event; weight, hair, and eye color; and character traits guide them as they write. However, concrete details about the imaginary people who inhabit the pages of your manuscript don’t allow you to experience them. You can’t get up […]

Learn How to Set Up the Potential for Change in Character Arcs

Note from K.M. Weiland: Welcome to a special follow-up post to my (temporarily) completed series The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel. Wordplayer and frequent blog commenter Usvaldo de Leon, Jr. (who will no doubt remind me “commenter” is not a word!) sent me the following thoughts on the use of excellent character arcs […]

How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

Part 13 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Sometimes the greatest act of courage any person can perform is simply that of being honest. This is arguably more valid for writers than for just about anyone—and it is nowhere more valid than in being willing to stay true to your characters. Here’s the thing […]

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It's Always Their Fault

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault

It’s a morbid joke among writers: we are so mean to our characters. And we love it. It’s the stuff of good stories. It’s the stuff of epic conflict. And yet, all this very important imaginative cruelty can sometimes trip us up on our way to writing dynamic characters who can, in turn, deal with this epic […]